Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor has gone from fantasy football superstar to a migraine-inducing back in No Man’s Land. This offseason, he requested a trade and found a trade partner but wasn’t moved, as reported by ESPN and NFL Network.
The Colts also insist that Taylor has a back injury that he denies, but the team added him to the reserve/PUP list and he’ll miss at least the first four games of the 2023 season. Taylor can still be traded but is guaranteed to miss the first four games, no matter his uniform. So, what does this do to fantasy football’s former No. 1 running back?
It varies by scoring format, but with no drama from the organization, Taylor was expected to be at least a top-10 running back this year. With four games missed, you have to drop him down in rankings, and if you have already drafted, you are out of luck other than going for one of the team’s backups on waivers. For example, New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara is suspended for the first three games of the season and is being drafted as the RB26 in the sixth round.
The difference between Kamara and Taylor is that we have a pretty solid idea of what to expect for Kamara’s future. He is expected to return in Week 4 and be the starting running back for the Saints. For Taylor, he still claims he doesn’t need to be on the reserve/PUP list for any sort of injury, but Indy is willing to let its star running back just not play for four weeks. The Colts could end up trading Taylor, but he would still have to miss at least four games. Taylor could get moved at the trade deadline, traded while on the PUP list or choose to sit out. The uncertainty around his situation should plummet his draft stock.
There are 18 weeks in the NFL regular season, with each team scheduled to play 17 games. Taylor automatically misses four weeks and will miss a bye week, meaning at most, he will suit up for 13 weeks of the season. If he is eventually traded, he could miss another week to adjust to his new team and another bye week, depending on how the schedule falls. This could bring down his schedule to only 11 weeks of the season. Taylor averaged 12 points per game last season, and projecting that over 13 weeks would be 156 fantasy points in half-PPR scoring. He would’ve ranked as the RB25 last season.
Someone in your league is likely going to reach for Taylor, but at this point, with all of the uncertainty, address other positions first. Get set up with two wide receivers, two running backs, a quarterback or tight end, depending on your strategy, and then maybe you can look at Taylor in the seventh or eighth round, knowing you’ll have to stash him.